December 28, 2017

Eldorado in Hell

In October 2016, Miro and Fanny, in their late twenties, were preparing a trip to Yukon: like thousands of other apprentice adventurers, they were dreaming of a morel eldorado. They bought an old Westfalia for this 12,000 km journey and they were looking for advice, contacts, and bear repellent.

Wild morels emerge en masse in the burns of Western North-America the spring following previous summer’s forest fires. Lately, the fires had been sparse: the next harvest would be meager, but prices were rising. Above all, they had to locate the promising burn areas and avoid the crowd of gatherers.

In late May 2017, they hit the road. Near their goal, in Fort Nelson B.C., they hit a snag; their brakes failed and had to be repaired. Crossing the Yukon border, at Watson Lake, in the crowd of adventurers, they met the pair we had put them in contact with. They got outfitted and bought their picking permits. The party met at the edge of a burn, 10km north of the Alaska Highway. Unfortunately, they were not alone there.

After five days of walking in a mosquito-infested lunar setting, they had pocketed $ 300 for 50 lbs of fresh morels. The rains of June 10 and 11 made picking and dehydrating less plausible. They decided to return slowly, passing through Vancouver where they could admire the grizzly bear in the comfort of a zoo.

Recently, they offered us their last pounds of dried morels which was not quite enough to pay for the brakes. They plan to return next spring. In the region, the latest fires have been devastating. The harvest should therefore be more abundant, but then, prices will fall and the crowd will have to be avoided.

If their adventures interest you, check out Langdon Cook in The Mushroom Hunters and Benoît Peyre in À la poursuite des morilles de feu are superb storytellers. 

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